An open letter to Premier David Eby and Forests Minister Bruce Ralston regarding a draft Land Act order & public consultation for Special Management Zone 13 (Nahmint Valley).
27 January 2023
. This open letter is in response to a Ministry of Forests (“MoF”) public consultation in the Port Alberni area.1 The MoF public consultation seeks to acquire feedback on a draft ministerial order which seeks to legalize certain areas for old growth protection, and subsequently maintain non-legalized areas for continued industrial logging.2
. Both the public consultation and draft ministerial order are reliant upon a backgrounder document titled Nahmint Landscape Unit Plan, produced by British Columbia Timber Sales (BCTS).3 Of immediate concern is the general framing of this backgrounder. The BCTS program area that produced the document had previously been subjected to multiple investigations regarding forestry management data within the area applicable to the order. The same investigations, which included third-party ecological re-planning documents and reports, had questioned BCTS’s forestry planning methods. The results of these investigations, as well as recommendations made to government (2021) by the Forest Practices Board (FPB), were not disclosed to the public in any of the information presented for public consultation.
. For the reasons discussed herein, the undersigned author generally opposes the current consultation process on the grounds of transparency in ministerial decision making. Further, it is recommended the Province of B.C. does not approve the draft order proposed by BCTS staff as the documentation provided for consultation is not only lacking transparency but accurate history.
. This open letter focuses broadly on three key areas of forestry management practices within Special Management Zone (SMZ) 13, also known as Nahmint. These are:
historical SMZ 13 matters;
general methodologies of B.C. Timber Sales (BCTS) within SMZ 13; and,
the current public consultation process.
A. History of SMZ 13
. The Vancouver Island Land Use Plan (VILUP)4 and the Higher Level Plan Order5 (HLPO) form the backdrop to the current consultation process. These documents provide a benchmark that currently underpins the regulation and management of forests on Vancouver Island.6 They are structural documents that were (and are) meant to be adhered to by both the logging industry and provincial government staff.
. In the current public consultation, a Nahmint Landscape Unit Plan is provided to the public as an authority for resource management. However, the Higher Level Plan Order pursuant to VILUP provides legal conservation objectives and historical conservation and biodiversity intent, not the documents currently presented to the public as part of this consultation. The Nahmint Land Use Plan therefore creates confusion for the public. Although it is addressed in the text of the backgrounder itself, the main role of the Higher Level Plan Order pursuant to VILUP should be more clear on the government’s website.
. Creating a new ministerial order without a general historical understanding of SMZ 13 undermines Indigenous reconciliation, public consultation, and the conservation of rare ecosystems within our forests. The current Nahmint Landscape Unit Plan, which purports to suggest a new ministerial order, does not accurately reflect the recent history of Nahmint planning and timber harvesting issues.
. Substantial ecological studies were carried out in the 1990s during the development of the VILUP. The cursory findings of ecological and bioclimatic variants identified certain areas of Vancouver Island that were special as they contained underrepresented and rare ecosystems. Within these special areas were additional extra-special areas of concern, to which additional protections were granted under VILUP. Located by a large lake with productive, low-elevation old growth forests, and boasting lush green valleys with rich biodiversity and ancient rainforest floors and canopies, Nahmint (or SMZ 13) was designated an extra special place with extra conditions to be considered prior to and during any logging activities.
. As part of the ministerial protections granted to SMZ 13 under VILUP-HLPO (2000), various conservation targets were mandated and certain percentages of the forest and various tree species were to be managed with additional caution. Little bubbles of protection were drawn across the Nahmint landscape that identified rare rainforest ecosystems. These bubbles became what is known as Old Growth Management Areas (OGMAs). In theory, they were pockets of fully protected old growth forest stands that would interconnect with other OGMA pockets to form a sort of conservation bubble wall across SMZ 13. In practice, they became the most sought-after areas for industrial logging. In a simplistic way, you can think of an OGMA as a box of Smarties, and rare forest ecosystems as the red Smarties within that box. There are many trees and ecosystems in the OGMA box but some colours and types are rare (highlighted further in a metaphor below).
. As the Province of B.C. shifted from government regulation to industry reliance during the late 1990s and early 2000s, the responsibility for management and conservation of SMZ 13 was increasingly downloaded to the logging industry. Logging companies through the years successfully obtained approvals for various Forest Stewardship Plans (FSPs), the precursor document that grants a company permission to log an area over several years. Some of these FSPs allowed encroachments into the OGMAs in exchange for the logging industry protecting other areas of SMZ 13 (i.e., a bait and switch). As highly valued areas were felled, SMZ 13 became an industrial race to the proverbial last red Smartie. Leading the race was B.C. Timber Sales.
. As the VILUP required percentages for ecosystem protection dwindled across SMZ 13, a new “shifting baseline” approach to planning was adopted by both government and industry. In essence, industry planning and new interpretations advanced an argument that VILUP retention percentages were much lower than the required values that were identified in the 1990s and HLPO (2000). In practice, the shifting baseline approach resulted in various increases to logging (approximately 13% in some areas). All of these increases were within already sensitive ecosystems experiencing high industrial impacts (usually low elevation, moderate-high productive old growth forests).
Shifting baseline metaphor
. The ultimate impact of shifting baseline approaches in the Nahmint is shown by continuing the Smartie metaphor. Imagine that you have a box of Smarties (i.e., your OGMA). You may eat them in accordance with these rules:
The overarching objective is to conserve 50% of the red Smarties.
You must only eat 50% of the red Smarties at a time.
You may manage and eat all the other colours as you wish, but Mom and Dad must approve your eating plan.
. There are six red Smarties in your box and Mom and Dad have approved your eating plan for the next several days. You immediately eat two of the red Smarties and half of the other remaining colours before putting the box away for tomorrow. When you open it the next day, there are now four red Smarties. You eat another two red Smarties and half of the rest before putting the box away again. When you come back the next day, Mom catches you as you are about to eat another red Smartie. “Stop that!” she says, “You should have three red Smarties left, but you have already eaten four.” You shove the Smartie in your mouth anyway and tell Mom that you are following the plan by eating less than 50% of the red Smarties left in the box. To confuse her, you add that Dad said it was ok because there is another box with more red Smarties in the cupboard, so the red Smarties in this box are just part of a larger pile of red Smarties the family hasn’t counted yet. Mom goes to confirm with Dad. This takes a full day.
. You eye the box and make a quick calculation. Either Dad doesn’t remember if he said that you are allowed to eat 50% of the remaining red Smarties in the box each day (which he didn't) and you are about to get away with it, or Mom is coming back with a wooden spoon. Either way, your best course of action is to double down and pop 50% of your remaining Smarties down the hatch to show how much you really believed you were right. You leave one red Smartie to prove you are not greedy and further justify your actions by telling yourself that Mom never said to stop, she just left the room to check with Dad. There is now only one red Smartie left.
. Mom comes back and is hopping mad. Out comes the spoon, but you avoid a whacking by explaining to Dad that you just made an honest mistake. Mom demands you open all the Smartie boxes and pile up the reds for a proper counting. Turns out, you opened a few of the boxes at your last birthday party and now there are only two boxes left. You ask your friends, but nobody can remember how many red Smarties they ate at your party. You realize that there is probably not a secret stash of red Smarties in the unopened boxes. Together with your parents, you open the remaining boxes. There are no red Smarties in the first box, and only one in the second box. You call Nestlé, but they tell you it is going to take another 200–500 years to get some more red smarties manufactured. In a panic, you take all the other colours and add some water, hoping a red one rises to the surface. Your Smarties are now just a muddy mess that don’t make much sense or resemble what was originally in the box. Welcome to SMZ 13.
. The OGMAs are the boxes of Smarties. There are many colours, some are rare, some are not. The Smarties are the trees. The red Smarties are the old growth trees comprising sensitive and rare ecosystems. The other colours matter too, just not as much. Mom is the compliance team. Dad is the one doing the final sign off on your eating plan (i.e., your FSP).
. Read strictly, your actual obligations under the eating rules allowed you to do what you did. The objective was to leave some red Smarties, but it did not say you must leave 50% of the six red Smarties that you started with—just that you could only eat 50% of the Smarties at one time. What simplistically played out in this Smartie metaphor is known as maximum yield strategy, or more colloquially “nibble theory.” Under a maximum yield strategy, there is no operational benefit to meeting conservation objectives as the risk of harsh punishment is low and the chance of immediate reward high. (The risk is further mitigated if you quietly slip a few Smarties to Dad and argue a couple were a little more “orange” than a proper red). Broadly speaking, and recognizing the many complex nuances not mentioned here, it is this methodology that currently underpins SMZ 13 management approaches by the Province of B.C.: maximum yield through shifting baselines.
. SMZ 13 conservation objectives lack strict enforceability. Another ministerial order will not address this structural problem. Due to the presence of rare, underrepresented, and sensitive ecosystems in SMZ 13, an unenforceable conservation objective is not appropriate. The current draft order should not be actioned any further as it relies on flawed interpretations of VILUO-HLPO (discussed again below). A structural fix requires statutory authority to immediately revoke harvesting permissions in the event that false, misleading, or inaccurate data is discovered. Further, adequate enforcement is required. Enforcement staff must be allowed to stop all works if reasonable grounds exist to believe that a harvest will exceed or otherwise not substantially comply with the Higher Level Plan Order (i.e., precautionary and preventive enforcement powers). Legalizing an OGMA, which may be in non-compliance with the Higher Level Plan Order from the outset, is reprehensible—and this was the previous concern of the FPB with BCTS’s shifting baseline interpretations.
B. General methodologies of B.C. Timber Sales in SMZ 13
. This section addresses certain matters not presented to the public in the current consultation process.
. The undersigned author was previously a lead provincial forestry officer during a complex compliance investigation involving SMZ 13. Of particular interest to the investigator were the FSP approval processes and forestry data sets located at the Port Alberni field office.
. The investigation covered an extensive review of OGMA delineations and old growth retention values (the Smartie boxes and the red ones inside) and found what appeared to be cumulative effects and serious ecological impacts of FSPs being approved in error over many years (all the red Smarties were disappearing too fast as the boxes were opened). Looking ahead at the FSP years left (the length of the eating plan), there were concerns that deficit harvesting would occur. The undersigned author, as lead investigator, warned BCTS of these issues through a Compliance Notice.7
. BCTS submitted a written reply to the Advisory Letter suggesting that the lead investigator did not have authority to review or investigate FSP approval processes. Further, BCTS claimed (and later further argued) that once an FSP was approved, even if it was approved in error, it could not be rescinded or challenged.8
. Simultaneous to this investigation, the lead investigator commissioned a blind ecological review for SMZ 13 to re-confirm OGMA delineations and retention values.9 This review also found significant concerns with the way retention values and OGMA delineations were being shown on paper. The math appeared to favour industry and BCTS interests, not conservation objectives or proper legal order interpretations. An Advisory Letter (a step above a notice) was then issued to BCTS showing the government to be in non-compliance with overarching conservation objectives.10
. Like the kid in the aforementioned Smartie metaphor, BCTS maintained internally within government that the logging was approved and non-investigable. BCTS argued they were strictly following the “nibble” rules. The lead investigator highlighted for various government officials and BCTS staff that providing misinformation to a responsible official in order to acquire logging authorization (lying to get your eating plan approved by your parents), constituted a statutory offence that could be investigated. In essence, regardless of the existing FSP and enforcement authority over its approval, it would be in the best interests of BCTS to immediately correct their behaviour. The alternative could be further investigation in providing false and/or misleading information to a forestry official.
. During this time, the provincial government cancelled all of its funding for the RCMP Forest Crimes Unit, which was subsequently disbanded (although still exists in other parts of Canada). This left the lead investigator as the only field-level enforcement authority willing to pursue the matter (police oversight became an impossibility).
. It was suggested by the FSP approval authority (i.e., Dad) that the investigator should close the investigation and not make any written findings . Ultimately, multiple complaints were filed against the lead investigator at the ADM level by BCTS and their staff. Provincial executives in Victoria (who oversaw both BCTS and the investigators chain of command) then made attempts to retract investigation findings without the investigator’s knowledge. During this time, the investigator was also contacted by the Forest Practices Board (FPB) about a public complaint involving the potential over harvesting of timber in Nahmint. The investigator refused to shut down the investigation and instead turned over all documentation to the Forest Practices Board.
. An important factor during this investigation were the attempts being made by BCTS at the time to legalize OGMAs under ministerial order. In simple terms, while being notified that the logging practices were questionable and needing review in SMZ 13, the response by BCTS was to approach the minister and attempt to have a ministerial order rushed through that would essentially legalize and/or disregard what had taken place over the previous twenty years, thereby allowing maximum yield without strict adherence to conservation objectives within the Higher Level Plan Order. This was directly countered by the lead investigator at the time and BCTS was advised in writing to voluntarily cease that legalization process.
. The Forest Practices Board conducted an audit of the investigation and ecological review, which confirmed multiple issues.11
. On September 21 (2021), the Ministry of Forests responded to the Forest Practices Board and agreed with all recommendations. It stopped short of committing to addressing the issue of FSP correction once approved. The responsible ADM also paused to note:
I also want to share that while the ministry agrees with the Board’s recommendations, we do not agree with the Board’s methodology. This methodology that resulted in a finding of 10 site series deficits did not use nor fully examine the best available information. The ministry believes that the current state of old and mature forests in the Nahmint Landscape Unit, including within these ten site series, all but one exceed the requirements of the HLPO.12
C. The current public consultation process
. Between 2021 and 2022 (i.e., during COVID restrictions) the Province of B.C. produced the documents associated with the current public consultation. These documents are based on their September 21, 2021, response to the Forest Practices Board, which continues to carry forward significant data interpretation issues.
. Again, the current consultation process purports to legalise OGMAs. While OGMAs are often thought of as legalised protections, they are not absolute. Once legalised, the converse result of an OGMA is that all non-legalised areas may be open for industrial logging. Further, various provisions allow for encroachments and other old growth removals. They are a poor tool for enforcement of broader conservation objectives and often misrepresent SMZ values and intended VILUP-HLPO restrictions. OGMAs are a lower level of protection than often thought.
. Considering the September 21 (2021), response to the Forest Practices Board, the Province of B.C. appears to adopt interpretations of maximum-yield nibble theory which do not substantively address the HLPO protective restrictions on harvesting in SMZ 13. There are significant concerns of future shifting baselines if SMZ 13 OGMAs are legalised.
Technical responses to the public consultation draft documents
. The new OGMA plan attempts to address the legal objectives missing from previous 2007 and 2012 draft OGMAs by looking at deeper representation (known as site series). However, errors within the earlier 2007 and 2012 OGMA drafts (also the subject of the aforementioned investigations) are simply carried forward again in this current iteration. It is noteworthy there appears to be a lack of consideration and/or weighting given to the current science on disturbance regimes and ecological risk. The mythology underpinning the draft order is older scientific findings that lacks modern scientific knowledge.
. It appears the draft order is premised on the wrong definition of “mature seral.” It is clear from the text and tables in the Biodiversity Guidebook that mature seral was never intended to include old growth. The legal requirement for 25-33% mature forest is in addition to old forest. The practical result of proper HLPO interpretation (i.e., meeting the legal intent) would increase the targets across Nahmint Valley Watershed and within SMZ 13 specifically.
. The proposed OGMA design to be legalised appears to be larger and to protect more conservation areas than previous drafts. In fact, it is simply including areas that were never threatened by harvest in the first place. The draft order protections are artificially inflated. There are also questions concerning the double- counting of protected areas. Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHAs), for example, are already protected and do not need to be reclassified. Additional concerns regarding a lack of analysis on old growth deferral areas remain.
. Common site series values and underrepresentation of rare ecosystems remain a concern.
. OMGAs in SMZ 13 should not be legalized at this time and no further non-Indigenous FSPs should be approved until there has been significant consultation and review regarding the manner in which the Province is interpreting the Higher Level Plan Order and retention percentages. Due to differences in Higher Level Plan Order interpretations, it is necessary that BCTS and FSP holders are provided further clarification by regulation and that such regulations consider the historical context of impacts to Nahmint and original VILUP design and conservation intent, as well as, modern Indigenous consultation obligations (now ratified).
The rainforests of Nahmint are extra special places for Indigenous peoples, the citizens of B.C., and all future generations. This area requires careful handling in well-considered processes that take into account the history of industrial activities and place Indigenous and community values front and centre. If VILUP-HLPO were to be strictly applied and properly interpreted, it is highly likely there would only be allowances for Indigenous logging. It is unlikely BCTS would be able to continue selling timber in SMZ 13 in its current manner. BCTS is only able to achieve ministerial authorizations for “business as usual” through the process of OGMA legalisation, which purports to adopt its own interpretations of VILUP-HLPO. BCTS erodes impartiality in the decision-making process by playing a dual role of the holder of an FSP and an authority capable of drafting a ministerial order on behalf of the government and launching public consultations.
The current approach in Nahmint runs counter to general transparency and impartiality in government decision making. Pushing Nahmint farther towards the brink of irreparable harm by adopting nibble theory is the epitome of maximum yield strategies, which place government finances and timber supply ahead of biodiversity protections, Indigenous reconciliation, and the overall resilience of our forests.
Dr. Bryce J. Casavant, Director of Conservation Intelligence
Per, Pacific Wild Alliance, Canada
1 Nahmint Engagement Summary (19 October 2022). [Province of B.C. web log]
2 Order of the Minister of Forests (10 September 2022 – DRAFT) pursuant to Land Act 93.4 [web log]
3 Nahmint Landscape Unit Plan (22 August 2022). [PDF plan file]
4 Later updated to Vancouver Island Summary Land Use Plan (February 2000).
5 VILUP – Higher Level Plan Order (1 December 2000) [ministerial order]
6 Historical commentary
7 Appendix 1: Compliance Notice - Inspection Findings (SMZ 13) [18 June 2018].
8 Appendix 2: BCTS Reply to Compliance Notice - Inspection Findings (SMZ 13) [9 August 2019].
9 Nahmint SMZ 13: Consistency of Forest Stewardship with Management Intent and Legal objectives (22 October 2018) [enclosed by-email as PDF attachment to this consultation submission].
10 Appendix 3: Advisory Letter - Nahmint (SMZ 13) [ 22 October 2018].
11 Compliance with Biodiversity Requirements in the Nahmint Watershed. Complaint Investigation #18047 (May 2021). Forest Practices Board [investigation report].
12 Ref: 267201 (21 September 2021) [ministry response to Forest Practices Board, no title]
The atmospheric river of November 2021 in BC caused at least $6 billion in damage. Over-exploitation of BC forests amplified this climate-change-induced effect. Will BC’s new chief forester ignore the threat over-logging presents in this new era of climate instability? Or reduce the cut?
An intense low pressure area off the coast of California was pumping an atmospheric river toward the state on January 4, 2023.
Good morning Shane:
The entire world, including British Columbia, has been and continues to be, subject to climatic events that cause millions to billions of dollars of damage and the tragic loss of an ever increasing number of human lives.
It is irresponsible for anyone, especially a high-ranking government official such as yourself, who has significant say and control over how BC’s forests are managed, to refuse to make appropriate allowances for both past and future events.
Such measures/allowances should include a judicious mix of the following:
Prescribing various silviculture measures such as limiting the size and extent of cut-blocks across the landscape.
Reducing the extent of roads present on the landscape by properly deactivating old ones and limiting the extent of new ones.
Reducing the allowable annual cut (AAC) in BC to truly sustainable levels including all associated values such as fish, wildlife, water, soil, aesthetics, old growth so all are appropriately protected and any and all species at risk can be and are managed so they are removed from the “At Risk” list in a timely manner. No more should ever be added to it.
Appropriately considering the cumulative impacts upon the landscape which have significantly changed the natural makeup and nature of the landscapes across BC and reduced its natural resistance to climatic events.
Making judicious use of the Precautionary Principle in the timber supply review AAC determination process so that all values present on the landscape are well protected with a reasonable margin of reserve set aside as a form of natural insurance that strengthens the inherent ability of the forested landscape of BC to adequately absorb and/or mitigate the negative impacts of both human incursions and naturally-occurring events on BC’s landscape.
This is logical because BC’s forests, if well and properly managed, have the inherent ability to significantly mitigate the impacts of all climatic events including heavy rainfall events, extremes in temperatures—either high or low, drought and/or high winds. BC has recently experienced all of these events, albeit relatively locally although over different geographic areas.
We personally use the Precautionary Principle in our everyday lives so that we can and do experience safe, healthy, wholesome and happy lives. We do this by reducing the several risks to which we are exposed as we go about our daily tasks. To fail to live by this principle would be irresponsible and foolhardy.
In recent timber supply review AAC determinations the previous chief forester refused to consider any of the above factors in her AAC determinations. Many believe these adamant refusals were not in the public interest.
We therefore request that you appropriately consider all of them in your pending and future AAC Determinations. By doing so you will be proactively demonstrating respectful regard not only for the inherent values of our forests but also for the interests of the people of BC.
If anything is going wrong in our forests, it’s not the fault of the professional association of BC foresters, according to its CEO Christine Gelowitz. Foresters Herb Hammond and Fred Marshall disagree.
WHEN FORESTER HERB HAMMOND RESIGNED IN DISGUST from the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) in late November, his letter of resignation received a lot of attention.
In response to Hammond’s letter, the ABCFP’s CEO Christine Gelowitz sent a letter to The Tyee explaining what Hammond got wrong, in her opinion. Below are Gelowitz’s letter, subsequent letters sent by forester Fred Marshall to Gelowitz and to the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance, and the latter’s response to Marshall. And, finally, Hammond’s response to Gelowitz.
The matters discussed below are central to the role the ABCFP plays—or doesn’t play—in protecting the public interest from the ravages of BC’s logging industry.
Nov 24, 2022: Response to Herb Hammond’s resignation letter from Christine Gelowitz, RPF, CEO of the Association of BC Forest Professionals
The letter written by Herb Hammond, a retired professional forester, and published on the Evergreen Alliance website and in Focus on Victoria, unfortunately demonstrates a misunderstanding of the mandate of the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) and misconstrues it with the role and authority of the Provincial Government.
Christine Gelowitz, RPF, CEO of ABCFP
By provincial law, the ABCFP’s duty is to regulate the people who practise professional forestry. The work of the ABCFP as a professional regulator entails setting education standards for professionals to enter the profession; setting professional service practice standards, competency standards, and a code of conduct; and holding its registrants to account for following professional standards via a public complaint and discipline process.
Neither the ABCFP, nor its registrants, have been assigned the duty or authority to set forest management objectives, rates of forest harvest, or other forest management policy concerns raised in Mr. Hammond’s letter. That accountability is held by the Province of BC or the landowner.
In this regard, the ABCFP functions in the same manner as other professional regulators. For example, the College of Physicians and Surgeons does not make health care policy or health spending decisions; Engineers Geoscientists BC does not set mining policy or building codes. In all respect, policy decisions in these areas are the role of government and elected officials, just as it is in forestry.
Misinformation is a problem for the public’s understanding forest management in BC. This in part is why the ABCFP has standards of competence and knowledge for practising forest professionals and requirements for them to maintain their competence and knowledge via ongoing professional development. These same requirements do not apply to retired forest professionals. Retired forest professionals are free to share their opinions but they are not allowed to provide advice or services that constitute the practice of forestry. Again, this is common among all regulated professions. A retired physician cannot provide medical treatment and would be unlikely to share advice, given that their knowledge is no longer current and they may not be protected from liability as a result.
We recognize that Mr. Hammond and others may want different forest policy choices made and different objectives set for forests and forest management in BC. One of the strengths of the ABCFP is the diversity of views within our population of registered forest professionals. ABCFP registrants are free to express their opinions about forest and land stewardship, as individuals or in groups that share a common message. As a professional regulator however, the ABCFP does not pick sides or lobby for particular forest policies or outcomes as this would put the organization at odds with the regulatory model chosen by the people of BC.
The reality remains that in BC, policies and decisions on how our forest land base is used are made by the landowner, in this case the Province of BC, via the provincial legislature and the government composed of those elected by the voters of British Columbia.
November 30, 2022: Response to Christine Gelowitz from retired professional forester Fred Marshall
As the senior employee for the ABCFP, you are inherently bound to speak out on its behalf and uphold its principles to the best of your ability. However, it appears that you believe that the ABCFP and its members are above reproach and NOT responsible for the state of BC’s forests. Rather, you state that this is the sole responsibility of government. I disagree.
Forester Fred Marshall
For example, in your letter to Herb you stated that: “Neither the ABCFP, nor its registrants, have been assigned the duty or authority to set forest management objectives, rates of forest harvest, or other forest management policy concerns raised in Mr. Hammond’s letter. That accountability is held by the Province of BC or the landowner.”
This statement is not only misleading but also incorrect.
While it is the responsibility of the Province of BC—the landowner—to develop, pass and enforce both policy and legislation governing how BC’s resources are managed, they do this after considering the advice of all resource professionals in BC, including—and very largely so, when related to forests—the members (registrants) of the ABCFP.
A specific example relates to determining the “rates of forest harvest” for BC. The timber supply review processes and subsequent AAC determinations set the stage for the entire focus and purpose of managing BC’s forest. This inherently includes all of nature, which is relegated to “resources” living in and/or related to the forests—fish, wildlife, water, aesthetics and the ecosystem services upon which all life depends.
Contrary to your statement that no ABCFP members have the duty or authority to set or determine these “rates of harvest,” this responsibility has been assigned to and placed with the Chief Forester pf BC, whose decisions cannot by fettered by the government. All Chief Foresters have been members (Registrants) of the ABCFP, as is the current one.
In your closing statement you note: “The reality remains that in BC, policies and decisions on how our forest land base is used are made by the landowner, in this case the Province of BC, via the provincial legislature and the government composed of those elected by the voters of British Columbia.”
This statement also conveys the message that the state of BC’s forests is solely the responsibility of the government and NOT, in any respect, that of the ABCFP or it’s members. I again disagree. All professional resource managers—especially the members of the ABCFP—share fully in this responsibility. These resource professionals have been given, via legislation, this responsibility—exclusively.
It is these registrants who must learn, interpret, understand and apply various forest practices that reflect the relevant policies and legislation upon the landscape. Unfortunately, what we see upon the landscape is not a pretty picture. A picture that, in many respects, reflects the signature of the ABCFP and its registrants upon the landscape.
Two renowned resource managers portray this axiom very well:
Thad Box, a retired professor of range management in the US commented about the “Worth of Our Work”. He described the resource professional’s stature and the reflection or “signature” of their work on the landscape as per the following:
“A prosperous tomorrow depends on good land health. It is essential for us to keep options open for future generations. Finding a way to help land stewards live the good life while maintaining sustainability is a job that fits the principle of Granddad’s recipe for curing ham. It reminds us that quality is seldom determined by a single act. It is the outcome of a process. The worth of our work is in the effect of people who husband the land we serve.”
Aldo Leopold, in Sand County Almanac, stated this paradigm in a somewhat different way. He said:
“I have read many definitions of what is a conservationist, and written not a few myself, but I suspect that the best one is written not with a pen, but with an axe. It is a matter of what a man thinks about while chopping, or while deciding what to chop. A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke he is writing his signature upon the face of his land. Signatures of course differ, whether written with axe or pen, and this is as it should be.”
The ABCFP is made up of thousands of individuals who, collectively, represent the Association in both word and deed with the latter being their “signature” upon the face of the land.
The signature on the land of forest professionals is often one of destruction and degradation. Thus, the essential ingredient of a conservation ethic is starkly lacking in the work of the ABCFP and many of its members. This harsh signature is reflected in the deplorable condition of BC’s forest landscape, and certainly does not comprise excellent resource management; although it certainly should. Instead, we view degraded landscapes covered with extensive roads and clearcuts, many of which disrupt and/or destroy biodiversity and render the people and communities located down-slope of them at unduly high risks of flood damage. We recently witnessed such damage—across the landscape—in Grand Forks, Merritt, Princeton, the Fraser valley and in other areas of BC.
I have read several Forest Stewardship plans and several TFL Management Plans prepared by forest professionals. The statements contained in these documents are often so vague and/or inconsistent that one cannot tell what kind of “signature” is intended to be portrayed on the “face of the land” that is entrusted to the licensees to manage.
The Chief Forester—a high-profile member of the ABCFP and hence a reflection of its stature and integrity—has repeatedly refused to acknowledge climate change, cumulative effects on the landscape and/or to apply the precautionary principle when engaging in the TSR /AAC determination process across BC. Such dogmatic denial of factors that have huge negative impacts on the AAC is not in the public interest; yet the Association ignores such behavior. Such denial results in the determination of unsustainable levels of AAC, yet such is supported by the ABCFP. Incredible, but true. Also extremely disappointing.
How could the ABCFP ignore such blatant disregard for the public interest which all members of all resource-related professions in BC are bound through their codes of ethical practice to hold paramount in their personal and professional lives?
Yet they, and many ABCFP members, do this and beat their chests and pat themselves on the back by making statements such as you just did regarding Herb Hammond’s resignation. One only has to evaluate the deteriorating health of BC’s forested landscapes and the reduced level of biodiversity represented by the steep decline in the number and diversity of wildlife species present to realize that these indicators reflect a very low and unacceptable level of management that has been applied to them by members of the ABCFP. A level of management that these people, individually and collectively, supported by the ABCFP, have and are writing their signatures upon the face of the land.
Unfortunately, the signatures on the land often fail to protect that land and the public interest.
December 2, 2022: Fred Marshall’s letter to Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance
I believe that the ABCFP has breached the intent of the Professional Governance Act by acting in a manner and by making false statements that support both it’s activities and those of its members. These activities do not conform to the Professional Governance Act and do not serve the public interest as they are bound to do as per the following Professional Governance Act requirement:
It is the general duty of a regulatory body at all times to serve and protect the public interest with respect to the exercise of a profession, professional governance and the conduct of registrants;
The ABCFP Code of Ethics, as do all of those of other professions involved with the management of natural resources, require that the public interest be held paramount over and above the demands of employment.
And the Professional Governance Act also requires that all of the professional associations are responsible to ensure that they and all of their members ensure that this principle is both honored and upheld.
However, the ABCFP, as per Christine Gelowitz’s letter and its other related actions continue to fail to best serve the public interest.
For example: The process of timber supply reviews and allowable annual cut determinations by the Chief Forester have inordinate impacts not only on BC’s forests but all associated natural resources. This is therefore an extremely important process, likely the most important one related to the health and well-being of all natural resources in BC.
While the Chief Foresters have unfettered freedom to carry out this process, the various forest ministers, nonetheless, have sent them guidance letters containing various aspects that they would like the Chief Foresters to consider as they carry out this process.
However, the ABCFP has never sent such a letter to the Chief Forester, asking them to consider aspects, especially regarding upholding the public interest, in this process.
By failing or even refusing to do this they have, inherently, given their full support to the Chief Foresters to do whatever they feel appropriate and endorsing same.
Additionally, they recently formally recognized former Chief Forester Diane Nicholl’s work in these endeavors by bestowing upon her the highest ABCFP award available—the Distinguished Forester Award.
I believe that Diane Nicholls, acting as the Chief Forester of BC, has failed to uphold the public interest in these processes. And, the ABCFP, by giving her this award, has indirectly condoned her actions which tend to keep the AAC as high as possible for as long as possible. In most instances this has not been in the best public interest. The state of BC’s forests is far from being good, let alone excellent, and it is deteriorating daily, exacerbated by the over-harvesting of BC’s forests. Our forests no longer have the inherent capacity to absorb and tolerate the climatic and man-made changes they are experiencing today. Rather, they are rapidly declining—at an ever increasing rate.
I therefore request that your office investigate this matter to determine whether the ABCFP has properly executed its duties as required under the PGA.
December 6, 2022: Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance responds to Fred Marshall
Under the professional reliance model, government sets the natural resource management objectives or results to be achieved; professionals hired by proponents decide how those objectives or results will be met; and government checks to ensure objectives have been achieved through compliance and enforcement. While government, professional foresters, and ABCFP all operate directly or indirectly within the natural environment, they nonetheless have distinct responsibilities that are important to be aware of.
The response from the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance was unsigned
Regulatory bodies such as ABCFP are tasked with regulating professional foresters within a defined scope of practice, and in the best interests of the public. While neither ABCFP nor the forest professionals create forest policy, they must nonetheless operate within this legislative scope.
Government ministries such as the Ministry of Forests create policies, which must be adhered to by professionals who work within the scope of practice related to those policies. While some government statutory decision makers hold a professional designation, such as Registered Professional Forester (RPF), these statutory decision makers undertake their work and make decisions as government employees, and not as registrants of a regulatory body.
It is important to note that while the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance (OSPG) currently oversees the governance of regulatory bodies such as ABCFP, individual ministries are still responsible for determining where and how professional reliance is appropriate according to the needs of individual business areas.
While the OSPG is keen to learn of concerns related to regulatory bodies that may suggest a systemic issue, these concerns and systemic issues must nonetheless be related to the scope of responsibility of the regulatory body and not issues pertaining to legislative issues. If you have concerns regarding forest policy, I urge you to connect with the Ministry of Forests directly.
I also encourage you to browse the OSPG website to learn more about the role of the OSPG. I would like to thank you again for bringing these matters to our attention.
Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance
December 7, 2022: Fred Marshall responds to OSPG
Thank you for your response. However, if your office does NOT believe that government employees who are “registrants” have to act as professional registrants because they are government employees, then we certainly don’t need your office for anything. Ditto the ABCFP and other professional associations.
It appears that the OSPG is solely focused on and only interested in the administrative aspects of ensuring all professional associations have the following in place and that all meet the specifications of the Professional Governance Act:
1. Adequate qualification requirements for its members/registrants (education and training)
2. Require that all members/registrants complete their PD records as per the stated format and on time.
3. Abide by the applicable Code of Ethics.
4. And, as stated by Christine Gelowitz: “By provincial law, the ABCFP’s duty is to regulate the people who practice professional forestry. The work of the ABCFP as a professional regulator entails setting education standards for professionals to enter the profession; setting professional service practice standards, competency standards, and a code of conduct; and holding its registrants to account for following professional standards via a public complaint and discipline process.”
However, according to Christine Gelowitz’s and your supporting rationale, they (professional registrants) can do whatever their employer tells them to do—especially government employees—even though, as illustrated by my examples, the work they do is not in the best public interest.
How could you possibly arrive at this conclusion?
Christine Gelowitz also stated: “As a professional regulator however, the ABCFP does not pick sides or lobby for particular forest policies or outcomes as this would put the organization at odds with the regulatory model chosen by the people of BC.”
How then can the ABCFP publicly honour (by awarding them as a Distinguished Forester) one of their registrants, i.e. the Chief Forester, when that person has made timber supply review allowable annual cut determinations that are not in the public interest. This is “picking sides and lobbying for particular forest outcomes”, i.e. cut levels that are unsustainable.
Again, how could you possibly view this behaviour as NOT promoting and rewarding the work of the Chief Forester—even though she was, at the time, a government employee.
Your position appears to state that any registrant can do whatever their employer tells them to do—especially government employees—and they cannot and will not be held personally or professionally responsible for their actions.
Christine Gelowitz also stated: “The reality remains that in BC, policies and decisions on how our forest land base is used are made by the landowner, in this case the Province of BC, via the provincial legislature and the government composed of those elected by the voters of British Columbia.”
NOT true. Most all operating policies and decisions made in BC regarding how BC’s forest land base and many private forest holdings are managed, by law, and made by appropriately qualified resource professionals—i.e. registrants. Registrants who, collectively, make up the various professional associations.
And, even though Christine attempts to distance and absolve the ABCFP for any decisions made on the landscape and the results of such decisions and actions taken by its members, the ABCFP is ultimately responsible for the actions and performance of its members.
Yet you seem to agree with Christine’s claim that this is not true. How so?
What will it take to get the Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance to take some meaningful action in guiding (yea, even disciplining) the ABCFP and any other professional associations that operate under the OSPG when they are—either directly or indirectly—supporting actions that are not in the public interest?
Needless to say, my hopes and expectations that the PGA would ensure that the resources of BC were being well managed via their oversight over the professional associations charged with doing this have been dashed.
Hence, the poor management of BC’s natural resources continues, not only unabated but inherently supported by the PGA.
December 7, 2022: Herb Hammond to Fred Marshall
The reply from the OSPG is beyond disgusting. They could have simply replied: “If you don’t like the current state of forests and forestry, then elect a different government.” If that is the case then, as you point out, we do not need the OSPG or professional associations for anything. They are just window dressing to give the illusion that well-educated, ethical “professionals” are taking good care of the forest, while in reality the forests are controlled and managed by corporate timber companies. Professionals just do what they are told by their employer.
The disconnect that the OSPG and the ABCFP display between the exclusive rights of their members to practice forestry, and the responsibility of their members and licensing bodies to evaluate whether that practice protects the public interest is striking.
I am glad to no longer be associated with this gong show that is clearly constructed to obfuscate who really controls forests and what the actual condition of public forests is.
Thanks for your persistence in following up on the clear failures of the OSPG and ABCFP to do their jobs.
December 16, 2022: Herb Hammond’s response to Christine Gelowitz et al
This letter responds to Christine Gelowitz’s response to my November 24, 2022 letter of resignation from the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP).
Ms. Gelowitz asserts that my letter “demonstrates a misunderstanding of the mandate of the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) and misconstrues it with the role and authority of the Provincial Government.” To the contrary, I have a clear understanding of the ABCFP’s mandate. The source of our differences lies in the breadth through which the mandate is interpreted.
1) Disconnecting “Regulation of Profession” from Policy and Practice; and Protection of the Public Interest
Ms. Gelowitz explains that the work of the ABCFP “entails setting education standards for professionals to enter the profession; setting professional service practice standards, competency standards, and a code of conduct; and holding its registrants to account for following professional standards via a public complaint and discipline process.”
However, she seems to assert that these duties have nothing to do with policies, processes, and standards affecting the practice of forestry, including setting forest management standards, rates of forest harvest, and other forest management policy concerns. Instead, Ms. Gelowitz asserts that those responsibilities rest entirely with the provincial government.
This position lacks logic and contradicts both the ABCFP’s Code of Ethical and Professional Conduct (code of ethics) and the way that forestry is practiced in the forest across BC.
Disconnecting education standards, practice standards, and competency standards from how forestry is practiced, including plans and operations, is illogical. All these roles of the ABCFP have demonstrative effects on how forestry is practiced.
For example, government sets policies and regulates forestry practice based to a significant degree on the advice of forest professionals in the employ of the government. Major universities in the province with forestry programs and/or forest-related research employ forest professionals that influence government legislation and policy. Prominent lobby groups, like the Council of Forest Industries and the Truck Loggers Association also employ forest professionals that influence how government sets policy and regulates forestry.
Thus, the ABCFP, through their duties to regulate their membership, has a widespread and strong influence on how forestry is practiced in BC, including government legislation, regulations, and policy; and planning processes like allowable annual cut determinations and land use plans.
Ms. Gelowitz asserts that “in BC, policies and decisions on how our forest land base is used are made by the landowner, in this case the Province of BC, via the provincial legislature and the government composed of those elected by the voters of British Columbia.”
In other words, the government of BC defines and protects the public interest in forests through the provincial legislature. Given this situation, the ABCFP cannot continue to state that they protect the public interest in forests and forest management across BC. According to the ABCFP, that is the government’s job.
However, this approach contradicts the ABCFP code of ethics, which specifies that registered professionals are charged with the responsibility of protection of the public interest. The code of ethics states, in part:
“Independence...Registrants must uphold the public interest and professional principles above the demands of employment or personal gain; Forest Stewardship...Registrants work to improve practices and policies affecting forest stewardship. Registrants must uphold forest stewardship and practice the responsible use of forest resources based on the application of an ecological understanding at the stand, forest, and landscape levels, which maintains and protects ecosystem function, integrity, and resilience.”
There are other aspects of the code of ethics that support that registered professionals are charged with protection of the public interest. However, protection of the public interest is not possible without having influence on legislation, regulations, and policies that affect how forestry is planned and practiced. Yet Ms. Gelowitz asserts that the “landlord” is responsible for “policies and decisions on how our forest land base is used,” thereby protecting the public interest.
Thus, when it comes to the public interest, the ABCFP cannot have their cake and eat it too. If the ABCFP and registered members are not involved in policies and decisions on how our forest land base is used, then they need to remove all aspects of this responsibility from their code of ethics. The two statements above are examples of wording that should be removed from the code of ethics, since—according to Ms. Gelowitz—those are responsibilities of the provincial government.
As articulated by Ms. Gelowitz, the duties of the ABCFP could largely be replaced by well-informed clerks, who license professionals to follow the dictates of government. And, since governments are largely directed by corporate lobbies, that means that the use of forests and related ecosystems of BC will be largely oriented to the needs of extractive, exploitive industrial objectives. In this situation, licensed professionals will reassure us that tree farms provide most, if not all the benefits of intact natural forests. Thus, with the limited role of the ABCFP as put forth by the Association, there is little need to have a staff of registered professionals.
2) Precautionary Decisions and the Practice of Forestry
If Earth, including humans, is to survive the growing crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, management of public forests must increasingly focus on protection and restoration, not extraction and tree farms. Forests are our largest terrestrial carbon sink, sources of irreplaceable biodiversity, and provide the most effective water storage and filtration system in nature. Forests need to be protected, restored, planned, and managed in open and transparent ways based on a combination of Indigenous knowledge and sound Western science. Decisions need to be precautionary, erring on protection and maintenance of ecosystem integrity and social well-being. However, it is naïve to think that such responsibilities may be vested in ephemeral governments, where objectives for forests change with the goals of the party in power. Similarly, such responsibilities are inappropriate for organizations whose primary responsibility is short-term monetary profits, justified by professionals working for those organizations, or in self-regulating professional bodies that lack definitive standards for planning and management, and a rigorous process of oversight by independent experts.
In professions other than forestry, there is a very strong emphasis on precautionary decisions and actions to protect the public interest:
• Doctors work to prevent serious illness and death.
• Engineers design buildings and bridges that don’t fall down, and airplanes that stay in the sky.
• Lawyers defend people’s rights to avoid unjustifiable incrimination.
• Architects design buildings that don’t fall down.
Such precautionary decisions do not characterize forestry, calling into question its status as a true profession. Foresters routinely work to minimize logging and road costs, and high-grade remaining timber supplies, while presenting their actions as “in the public interest,” when in fact their main focus is to protect their employer’s interest.
With the lack of a precautionary ethic as part of the code that foresters adhere to by their membership in the ABCFP, industrial forestry is more like mining than the professions of medicine, engineering, law, and architecture.
3) Standards: Incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge and Leading Science to Address Issues in the Practice of Forestry
The ABCFP code of ethics begins with the following statements:
“Registrants are responsible to hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public and the protection of the environment.
“The practice of professional forestry is undertaken in a manner that protects the public interest by ensuring the multiple values society has assigned to BC’s forests are balanced and considered.”
The code of ethics concludes with a section titled, “REPORTING”, which requires registered professionals to report instances where “the continued practice of professional forestry by another registrant, or by another person, including a firm or employer, might pose a risk of significant harm to the environment or to the health or safety of the public or a group of people.”
To fulfill the expectations created by these parts of the code of ethics, registered professionals need to be directed by, and adhere to precautionary standards that are based on Indigenous knowledge and leading scientific understandings. These standards need to address the issues that confront forestry.
To suggest as Ms Gelowitz does in her letter that “The reality remains that in BC, policies and decisions on how our forest land base is used are made by the landowner, in this case the Province of BC...” ignores the extensive technical information that needs to be assimilated and applied to practice forestry that protects the public interest. This position also ignores the responsibility of the ABCFP and its registrants to protect the environment, as well as the health and safety of the public.
Problems with the ABCFP’s lack of involvement in the many critical issues that surround forestry are becoming increasingly more evident. Due to the onslaught of industrial clearcut/tree plantation forestry, the last vestiges of primary forests are disappearing from the forest land base designated for forestry. With the disappearance of primary forests, including old-growth forests, the ecological integrity and resilience of remaining forests also declines.
Non-sustainable rates of cut and the dominant use of clearcuts to log forests are two of the primary causes for forest degradation being on the increase across BC. Such forest degradation, which is considered deforestation by many knowledgeable scientists and practitioners, has resulted in forestry being the single largest source of greenhouse gases in BC, the leading cause of biodiversity loss, the largest source of water degradation, a major cause of floods and droughts, and a major contributor to disasters, like the flooding, landslides and road washouts that occurred in the November 2021 “atmospheric river” event. I would be happy to provide citations from the scientific literature that explain these problems with forestry, as well as problems referred to in other parts of this letter.
The ABCFP’s silence on these issues casts a large shadow on its effectiveness as a regulator of the profession of forestry. To suggest that the government is the body that sets standards for the practice of forestry ignores the extensive technical information and understandings that underlie development of standards that sustain ecosystems and protect the public interest. Furthermore, forest professionals and the ABCFP have a professional responsibility to act when the practice of forestry is creating problems for forests and society.
In contrast, the decisions of government are political decisions and reflect the bias of a particular political party. Problems with the practice of forestry are seen through the lens of a political ideology and are not often science-based. Thus, these “standards” are not “professional”, but political. If the ABCFP and their members blindly accept such standards, they are stepping away from the due diligence and protection of the broad public interest that is asserted by registered professionals.
One cannot imagine a doctor blindly accepting a procedure set by government that puts a patient at risk. That is why medical practitioners develop precautionary standards that are focused on protection of a patient’s health. However, the ABCFP and its members, by defaulting to “standards” set by government, constantly put the complex functions and processes of forests in harm’s way. In this regard, it calls into question whether forestry is conducted in a professional manner.
If the ABCFP and their members continue to put forth the idea that the management of forests is directed by the government of the day, the practice of forestry defaults to the methods and rationale of the timber industry. That approach has led us from healthy, intact forests to timber farms that have changed forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources, exacerbated climate change, steadily decreased biological diversity, and provided fewer and fewer benefits to forest workers and forest communities.
The time is past for the ABCFP and its members to acknowledge that protection of the public good requires that they take active responsibility for the restoration and protection of forests across the landscape of BC. The future of BC depends in no small way on the health of forests. What that future looks like is being shaped by the way forestry is practiced across the province.
December 7, 2022
Rt. Hon. David Eby, Premier email@example.com
Dear Premier Eby,
Re: the cost of clearcutting ecosystems
I am writing to you to request a clear statement on what your Ministries are prepared to do to prevent the extirpation of Caribou in southern and central BC. The South Purcell herd is gone. The Central Selkirks herd is down to 28 individuals and while the Columbia North herd has enough numbers to rebuild, 622 ha of their critical habitat have approved plans for clearcutting. These cutblocks overlap deferral areas that were announced over a year ago when your government promised a paradigm shift in policy. If BC Timber Sales and the Ministry of Forests are allowed to continue to approve cutblocks in required habitats and construct logging roads into them, we will also lose the Columbia North herd within the next couple of decades.
Caribou, though iconic, are only the tip of the iceberg. The health and basic functionality of the environment, and we along with it, is imperilled by this approach to resource extraction. We once had 1.3 million hectares of rich Inland Temperate Forest and we are now down to less than 5 percent of that. Our present approach to timber harvesting involves removing a working ecology and replacing it with a second growth plantation. That in itself creates immense damage but having no plans to ever rebuild towards intact forests is essentially a plan to continually degrade the landscape over time.
Ecosystems are designed through time to be viable, resilient, stable and abundant. Biodiversity is both a product and a key driver to that evolutionary process. The wholesale removal of an ecosystem that has evolved through millions of years is called ecocide and I cannot think of a greater offence. It is appalling to contemplate because it is catastrophic in consequence. Those words are not too strong. We do not have any science that says we can reproduce ecosystems once we remove them.
We do have science that says we are losing our building blocks. The Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC have just released Species at Risk Recovery in BC that starts out by noting that we have 1900 species at risk in British Columbia. On this issue alone we should be immediately halting the clear cutting of the intact forests we have left and especially the richest, most biologically diverse ones like our rare Inland Temperate Rainforests.
Science is also telling us that while our forests used to be a massive carbon sink, they are now a carbon emitter on a scale equal to fossil fuel emissions. As you know, that warming is driving increased insect outbreaks, increased numbers and severities of forest fires and breakdowns in the forest’s ability to manage water, in addition to driving the biggest loss in biodiversity humankind has ever witnessed. So the need for the promised paradigm shift in forestry towards ecosystem health appears greater every year. Your Ministries delays for over two years in addressing this ballooning emergency is both puzzling and urgently concerning. Of the 14 recommendation from the Merkel/Gorley report, your government has actively responded to only one, logging deferrals in critical habitat, and that poorly. Your Technical Advisory Panel identified 4 million critical hectares and you have deferred only 2.6.
Conserving all of the little remaining of our old growth forests is critical to our success in protecting as much of our biodiversity as we can and building back toward true sustainability as quickly as we can. The current management approach of clearcutting intact forests for timber harvest has brought us to this point. To attempt to change while allowing clearcuts simply exacerbates a long-standing and growing problem. We need to come out of the deferral period with a new harvest approach that, through relying on highly selective cutting, leaves the forests intact and the integrity of their ecosystems functioning and vital.
We have a choice. We can continue to clearcut until all our old growth forests are gone, (except for memorial parks to house the species that have survived). We can accept species loss, accelerating climate change, forest fires, the breakdown of water regimes and least-value forestry with fewer mills, less manufacturing, fewer jobs and a steadily degrading landscape. Or we can use what we have left to begin the centuries-long job of building back intact forests that store carbon better, are more resilient to forest fires, manage water better, preserve the greatest biodiversity possible and support a truly sustainable, community-based forestry. “It becomes even more important to maximize the number of jobs and the economic benefits from every cubic metre of wood harvested,” Taylor Bachrach, MP for Skeena-Bulkley, said in parliament on November 28. Clearcutting our forests will not do that.
You have the resources to shift the paradigm toward forest and community resilience. Forestry was once our iconic industry and you continue to subsidize it to the tune of over a million dollars a day, this to large international forestry players who increasingly invest more of their BC generated profits out of the country. Despite that support, forestry has fallen to a few percent of our GDP. The old model has failed both environmentally and economically. If you diverted even half of that support to working with community forests and Indigenous-based forestry, you would get a better return for our money. Communities need help to repair their ecologies and develop appropriately scaled harvesting, manufacturing and marketing models that work for them but do not erode the environmental capital that surrounds them. They need new policy that supports the development of social infrastructure, everything from models of community financing to doing the research necessary to inform the move back to forest and community health.
Your government has shown strong social leadership in beginning to move BC laws and policies to align with the principles of the UNDRIP and reconciliation with Indigenous people. Your government announced a watershed security fund two years ago. On October 6 the First Nations Leadership Council called for a Watershed Security Fund by 2023. The federal government has offered an initial $50 million towards saving old growth and is trying to protect 30 percent of our land base by 2030, (rather than the present 14 percent). The 15th global Convention on Biological Diversity is meeting in Montreal to try to save as much as we can. Surely our stars have aligned. The time has come. We are ready to proceed.
We, especially those of us who live in forest communities, need this shift to include a new partnership with all local governments. Work with us and we will move to a higher standard of forest practice, one that is focussed on assessing what the land surrounding us needs to continue to support the life around us and our livelihood here. In a good ways. We don’t want to only find caribou on the back of a quarter. Thank you for your attention to this and for your work for us.
Robert Hart, Terrace
Dear President Mierau and Council Members, Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP):
By way of this letter, I resign my membership in the ABCFP.
I no longer wish to be part of an organization that alleges to “care for BC’s forest and forest lands,” while remaining silent about the degradation and frequent destruction of natural forest integrity and resilience perpetrated by the vast majority of forestry activities. I will provide examples of these endemic problems below.
The ABCFP spends more time worrying about what title people involved in forest management do or do not use than providing standards and oversight of activities to protect forest integrity and resilience. The constant reminder, under threat of fines and potential incarceration, to retired forest professionals that they are not permitted to practice forestry, even to provide advice, is a specific example of this problem. In many aspects of societies retired people are viewed as sources of wisdom to be consulted and listened to as a way of reaching sound conclusions that protect the public interest and the ecosystems that sustain them.
In the absence of definition and oversight of forest management in BC by the ABCFP, the organization has contributed significantly to the many endemic problems that plague the profession. Here are a few examples:
(1) A plethora of scientific articles urge the protection of primary forests and remaining intact forests to mitigate climate change and reduce loss of biodiversity. Incorporation of this knowledge into new ways of forest protection and use that maintain forests as carbon sinks, and sources of high levels of biodiversity are professional obligations to protect the public interest. Instead, the ABCFP promotes, often by their silence, “business as usual” forest management that exacerbates climate change and biodiversity loss, and shifts forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.
(2) The determination of the allowable annual cut (AAC), along with where and how the AAC is extracted have major impacts on the integrity of forests and the well-being of forest-based human communities. However, the AAC is based on questionable (or no) science. Together with a strong lobby from the timber industry to keep the cut as high as possible for as long as possible, the structure used to calculate timber available results in non-sustainable AACs. This problem has become increasingly obvious as industrial forest tenure holders are unable to find trees to cut to meet their AACs and/or resort to logging of younger and younger trees to reach their AAC.
The ABCFP has an obligation to provide scientifically sound and precautionary models, inventory standards, and forestry methods that protect the broad public interest. This obligation has been shirked to the point that the ABCFP may be viewed as more of an industry lobby group than a professional association that stands up for the well being of the public. The actions and inaction of the ABCFP may be interpreted as being in support of keeping the level of cut as high as possible for as long as possible.
(3) Pure water is a vital ecological benefit produced by forests at no cost, as long as the natural integrity of forests are maintained. However, with the exception of some small non-industrial forestry operations, industrial forestry degrades water quality, quantity, and timing of flow. The degradation of water starts as soon as roads and the first logging occur in a watershed. As more roads and logging occur in a watershed the degradation of water grows.
The type of logging and its location within a watershed influence how large and long lasting the negative impacts of forestry on water are. The work of Younes Alila, UBC forest hydrologist, and his graduate students has been seminal in urging big changes to forest management to protect water. The public has also been very vocal (and right) about the many negative impacts of forestry to water. Science supports that old growth forests provide the best water with the most reliable flows. Climate scientists reminds us that with the loss of intact, natural forest cover, water problems will increase as climate change progresses, leading to more floods, droughts, and water shortages. However, the ABCFP has been silent about the wide ranging impacts of forestry on water, including floods and drought. This silence certainly looks like the ABCFP is captured by the timber industry and not acting in the public interest.
(4) Professional reliance, which was put in place by a provincial government that desired to privatize public forests has been entrenched in forestry practices as the modus operandi. This approach permits no disclosure of information to the public by timber companies about the standards and specific forest data on which timber management operations are based. Thus, we have private entities preparing plans and carrying out timber extraction on public lands with no effective accountability to the public. The ABCFP support for professional reliance is a direct conflict with their stated intention to protect the public interest. If that intention was real, the ABCFP would support the abolition of professional reliance and support the development and enforcement of clear, precautionary standards for forest management. The public interest is not protected by turning forests over to the discretion of the timber industry. The public interest is protected by ensuring that all forest activities maintain the natural ecological integrity and biodiversity that provide the ecological benefits that the public depends upon.
(5) Clearcutting has been thoroughly discredited for its wide ranging negative impacts on carbon sequestration and storage; biodiversity; water quality, quantity, and timing of flow; and non-timber forest uses. Climate scientists have been vocal in their opposition to clearcutting, because it exacerbates climate change and fuels biodiversity loss. Yet, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, clearcutting remains the system of choice for most timber management in BC. This is another place where the ABCFP silence is in direct opposition to the public interest. Even if short-term employment is the only aspect of the public interest considered, clearcuts still fail to deliver as much employment as ecologically responsible partial cuts.
(6) In the world’s rush to commit to less carbon intensive forms of energy, BC forests have now become a target for the wood pellet industry that supplies wood pellets to burn for the production of electricity in the United Kingdom, Japan, and elsewhere. Burning wood pellets to produce electricity emits significantly more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity produced than burning coal. At best, burning wood pellets is a misguided attempt to lower greenhouse gas emissions. At worst, it is blatant greenwashing.
As another place to market timber, the timber industry in BC has eagerly joined the chorus promoting the development of the wood pellet industry in BC. Allegedly, the wood for these pellets comes from waste from logging and sawmilling operations. This situation has been rationalized by the declaration by forest professionals that portions of trees that are not merchantable logs are “waste” that is burned after logging is finished. In reality, no tree parts are waste. The “waste” that is now burned needs to be left on the ground, because it is an important part of forest composition that functions to replenish soil nutrients, conserve water, and provide habitat for a variety of organisms essential to forest functioning.
To add to the problems created by wood pellets, there is abundant, credible evidence that intact BC forests, including old-growth forests, are being logged to produce and export wood pellets. Protection of these intact forests, particularly old-growth and other primary forests, is extremely important to mitigate climate change and slow biodiversity loss
The ABCFP is silent about the problems created by the wood pellet industry, despite the fact that creation of wood pellets is not in the best interest of the public, particularly since it increases greenhouse gas production. Apparently, the ABCFP maintains that what is good for the timber industry is good for the public interest.
Another aspect of this issue is that the former chief forester of BC, Diane Nicholls, is now the Drax vice president of sustainability. Drax, located in the UK, is the world’s largest user of wood pellets to generate electricity. The switch from senior government official to senior industry manager was made after Nicholls facilitated the development of the wood pellet industry in BC.
Nicholls is a prominent member of the ABCFP. Despite her unethical actions around facilitation of the expansion of the wood pellet industry and then leaving government to join Drax, the ABCFP has not initiated a review of Nicholls behaviour vis a vis the Code of Ethics. The likely reason to be cited by the ABCFP is that disciplinary proceedings need to be initiated by an individual, either a member of the ABCFP or the general public. This raises another example of the ABCFP practicing a culture of silence on prominent issues they need to speak out about in order to protect the public interest and the overall credibility of forest professionals.
(7) In her role as Chief Forester, Diane Nicholls established the “Chief Foresters Leadership Team,” to provide her with advice about how to manage the forests of BC. The Leadership Team consists of the chief foresters of all the major timber companies throughout BC. Such a “team” skews the advice to recommendations that support timber extraction and away from advice that supports protection of forest integrity and the broad public interest. This is yet another example of the silence of the ABCFP in issues critical to the conservation and sustainable management of the public forests of BC. The ABCFP has the opportunity to support development of a Chief Forester’s Leadership Team that is inclusive of experts on the diverse issues affected by forest management, from climate change and biodiversity loss to non-timber enterprises and Indigenous reconciliation. Such a leadership team would also include representatives of the general public, who are familiar with the current practices of forest management. The failure of the ABCFP to suggest a more appropriate leadership team than that appointed by the chief forester appears to be another example of the systemic timber bias of the organization.
FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE FOREST and all life that depends on healthy, intact forests, the success (or failure) of a forest professional is measured by their footprints in the forest. Good forest management leaves few footprints and fully functioning forests. Unfortunately, most of the forestry done in BC leaves many large footprints and degraded forests. The ABCFP’s role in the large footprints of forestry is a measure of their hypocrisy when one compares their code of ethics and other public documents with what actually happens in the forest.
All one needs to do is fly across the province to see the dire state of forest management. From there it requires little analysis to understand the large negative impacts that forestry has on all aspects of ecological integrity and biological diversity. The ecological benefits from pure water to carbon storage have been seriously degraded by industrial forestry. This has resulted in forestry being the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in BC. Industrial forestry exacerbates climate change and biodiversity loss, thereby contributing globally to the climate and biodiversity crises. Industrial forestry is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The forests are in trouble. Earth’s climate is collapsing. The ABCFP and many of its members are complicit in this trouble.
Transformational change in how we define and practice forestry is needed. However, the ABCFP seems to have chosen to ignore increasingly loud and dire warnings from climate and ecological scientists that intact natural forests need protection to mitigate climate disruption and reduce biodiversity loss. Instead of supporting needed change to forestry/forest management, the ABCFP and most of its members have chosen to support continued logging of intact natural forests across BC. That approach leads to a dead end that will not only harm forests, but also human society.
I no longer wish to be part of an organization that is unable to see the forest for the timber.
“Mature” hemlock and Douglas fir typical of second-growth being harvested on the Discovery Islands
Attn: Colin Koszman/ Land Use Forester, Molly Hudson/ Director of Sustainability
I STARTED OUT IN MY WORKING LIFE in the late ’60s, surveying cutblocks and new roads with MacMillan Bloedel on many of the lands now being managed by Mosaic—up in the headwaters of the Oyster, the Quinsam, the Campbell, the Eve and the Salmon. I witnessed the last of the valley bottom old growth being logged, magnificent cedar groves that would now be considered a national treasure, and saw the montaine plateaus of Mountain Hemlock, Yellow Cedar and Western Yew before anyone had touched them.
Since then, I’ve watched pretty much everything on the private managed forest land of Vancouver Island get mowed down, even where regeneration is poor, and especially in the second growth stands that were nowhere near reaching maturity. And now in an act of insanity even the third growth “pecker poles”. It’s no secret to anyone paying attention that our overcut forests are in ecological decline. It’s an easy concession now for your industry to set aside some token old growth remnants, since these areas are just the hard to reach “guts and feathers” of the great forests that once existed all over this part of the coast. But the greater crime of liquidation is now happening in immature forests. We have gone from that heroic age of the Tall Timber Jamboree to an age of weasely politicians promoting chopstick factories, in less than one human lifetime.
I’ve spent the last 40 years woodworking and homebuilding here on Cortes, and have watched the quality of native wood species plummet as its price keeps climbing. I’ve watched the sapwood in anything made just rot away, since it’s sugar content quickly attracts fungi and insects. I’ve noticed powder worms find their way into the widely spaced grain of second growth fir and cedar heartwood, whereas the tighter grain of resinous old growth was impervious.
What shocks me most about the simultaneous decline of professional forestry on the coast is this complete ignorance about wood quality. Foresters seem to be operating on the obsolete myth that an 80 year old Douglas Fir or Red Cedar is a “mature” tree, when it is really just an adolescent. At the “culmination age” of mean annual increment, these trees may be growing volume at their fastest rate, but that also means that the sapwood layer is also at it’s maximum volume in the tree. In other words, trees harvested at this age may be up to 50 percent sapwood that has no endurance, no longevity in wood products. Even the heartwood is unstable and full of knots. What an incredible waste of potential. What a sad lack of patience!
Just under half of the volume of this 95-year-old tree was low-value, non-durable sapwood (lighter coloured wood on left) around the time it was harvested
In an age of accelerating climate change, the best terrestrial carbon sinks that we must take care of are our native forests. Here on the coast, where the risk of fire is less than in the Interior, the capacity to store a huge amount of carbon at landscape levels is more achievable, and must be seen as the highest priority and professional responsibility among coastal foresters.
I’m not saying we need to stop harvesting trees, but that we must let them grow a lot older before doing so. We need to adopt a holistic forest management regime that aims for three crucial goals at once—high carbon capture in a biodiverse ecosystem with many old growth attributes, high carbon storage in mature durable wood products and high quality artifacts, and the economic perpetuation of good honest forestry and our inherited multitude of traditional woodworking crafts.
What professional foresters must not continue to do is steal the young forests and future forest livelihoods from all our grandchildren, just to keep adults in luxury, while simultaneously spouting the deceptive language of sustainability. The current rapid liquidation of the immature second and third growth forests on the BC coast is just that, a trans-generational crime of grand theft that I hope will not go unpunished.
Comments submitted to Chief Forester Diane Nicholls by Martin Watts RPF, March 4, 2022
It is unfortunate that Teal-Jones chose not to respond to 8 questions asked on February 18, 2022 (see questions below) to clarify some items in Management Plan #5. It is more than a bit disconcerting that some of the issues related to the questions asked had not already been identified by Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (“Ministry”) staff during the draft base case scenario review.
1. In the last Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) determination for TFL 46, one of the harvest flow objectives was to harvest at least 200,000 cubic metres per year from second-growth stands. In Management Plan #5 this objective has been changed to harvesting a maximum of 180,000 cubic metres per year from old- growth stands.
Based on the current and proposed AAC of 380,000 cubic metres per year, the difference between the harvest flow objectives is meaningless. Where it could have meaning is if the Chief Forester reduces the AAC. For illustrative purposes, suppose the Chief Forester reduced the AAC to 250,000 cubic metres per year. The previous harvest flow objective would only allow 50,000 cubic metres per year of old-growth stands to be harvested, whereas the proposed harvest flow objective would allow 180,000 cubic metres per year to be harvested from old-growth stands.
More importantly, the change in the harvest flow objective signals Teal-Jones’ intent to liquidate the old-growth stands as quickly as possible, before the government has finalized its plans on old-growth. Figure 4.3 on page 12 of the Timber Supply Analysis Technical Report (Appendix C) indicates most of the old-growth available for harvest will be harvested within the first 15 years.
Given that there appears to be sufficient second growth to harvest over the first few years of the period covered by this AAC determination, it seems reasonable to simply delay the harvest of old-growth stands that have not already been deferred from harvesting until the government has completed its work with First Nations and finalized plans on old-growth.
2. Section 9.2.5 (Fisheries-Sensitive Watersheds) of the Information Package sets maximum clearcut equivalent areas (ECAs) for fisheries-sensitive watersheds (Hatton Creek—42%; Hemmingsen Creek—25%; Gordon River—30%).
There is no mention of a watershed assessment in the documentation provided by Teal- Jones. I ask the Chief Forester to review how the maximum ECA limits were determined for the fisheries-sensitive watersheds. If a hydrological assessment was used, whether the assessment follows the new guidelines for Watershed Assessment and Management of Hydrologic and Geomorphic Risk in the Forest Sector.
The timber supply analysis has used a stand height of 9.0 m for full hydrological recovery (zero percent of the area contributing to ECA). Current coastal hydrological recovery curves have a stand height of 36.0 m for full hydrological recovery.
The current hydrological recovery curves for the coast indicate a stand height of 9.0 m represents 33.7 percent hydrological recovery, with 66.3% of the area contributing to the ECA and not zero as used in the analysis.
Given that Teal-Jones would not provide a response, I ask the Chief Forester to review whether maximum ECA limits are exceeded in fisheries-sensitive watersheds when the correct hydrological recovery curves are used and if so, to make any necessary adjustments in the AAC determination.
3. The timber supply analysis defines existing managed stands as stands 65 years of age or younger as of 2020. Stands older than this are defined as existing natural stands. Yields for managed stands are derived using TIPSY and yields for natural stands are derived using VDYP7.
Section 4.2.1 (Phase II Statistical Adjustment) of the Information Package provides the statistical adjustment ratios used in the analysis. Appendix B of the Information Package provides the 2013 VRI Phase II Statistical Adjustment Report that Section 4.2.1 is based on.
Based on Appendix B, the adjustment ratios for new merchantable volume in Section 4.2.1 are the adjustment ratios for site index and not net merchantable volume. I ask the Chief Forester to confirm that the correct adjustments were made to net merchantable volume for the timber supply analysis.
Appendix B indicates that immature are stands less than 81 years old and mature are stands 81 or older. The adjustment ratios for VDYP7 are based on this classification. The classification is different from the definition of existing managed stands (65 years old or younger) with yield curves derived using TIPSY and existing natural stands (older than 65 years) with yield curves derived using VDYP7. I ask the Chief Forester to confirm that the application of adjustments to VDYP7 yields is statistically valid.
4. Section 7.1 (Site Index Adjustments) of the Information Package indicates SIBEC was used for site indices for existing and future managed stands.
Section 4.1 (Spatial Data Input) of the Information Package indicates the 1995 Teal Cedar Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM) and the 2020 Provincial Site Productivity Layer (PSPL) were used in the analysis.
It is unclear whether the TEM was used in conjunction with SIBEC or the PSPL was used to obtain the site indices used for existing and future managed stands.
Based on Appendix B of the PSPL documentation3, the TEM (BAPID 5627) is not approved for site index estimation in the timber supply analysis. It has been superseded by the TFL 46 – South Vancouver Island TEM (BAPID 180).
I ask that the Chief Forester confirm that an approved method was used to obtain the site indices for existing and future managed stands.
5. Currently, just under 80% of the timber harvesting land base (THLB) is classified as existing managed stands and will have yield curves derived with TIPSY. The remaining 20% of the THLB will have yield curves derived with TIPSY once it is harvested.
There is no analysis validating TIPSY current yields or future yield projections with measured ground data.
The VRI Phase II Statistical Adjustment Report (Appendix B) used VDYP7 to estimate yields for the immature stands.
Appendix A indicates 92 – 11.28 m radius plots were established in stands 30 to 120 years old for a site index adjustment project. It is most likely that these plots were part of a monitoring program and could be used to validate the TIPSY yields.
It appears that TIPSY yields could have been validated using the VRI and monitoring plots 65 years or younger.
Section 5 (Timber Supply Analysis) of the Proposed Management Plan #5 and Section 6.6 (Minimum Harvest Age) of the Timber Supply Analysis indicate that both the short-term and long-term harvest levels are sensitive to an increase in minimum harvest age:
Increasing the minimum harvest age by 10 years reduces the short-term harvest level by 5.2 percent and reduces the long-term harvest level by 4.5%
Increasing the minimum harvest age by 20 years reduces the short-term harvest level by 25.5 percent and reduces the long-term harvest level by 13.4%
Given the effect of minimum harvest age on the AAC and minimum harvest age mainly affects TIPSY yields, not validating managed stand yield adds a great deal of uncertainty to the AAC determination.
I ask that the Chief Forester request a validation of the managed stand yields using available data and a statistically valid methodology.
6. Section 7.9 (Silviculture History) of the Information Package indicates summaries of well-spaced stems were used to initialize TIPSY simulations.
The current methodology used by the Ministry for the TSR for Timber Supply Areas (TSAs) uses total stems from the RESULTS data.
Given the effect of managed stand yields on the AAC, I ask that the Chief Forest review the use of TIPSY in relation to how TIPSY is used in the TSAs.
7. Section 6.4 (Future Stand Yield) of the Timber Supply Analysis is a sensitivity analysis that increases the managed stand yield by 10% and decreases the managed stand yield by 10% to examine the uncertainty associated with managed stand yields.
No rationale is given for the ±10% sensitivity levels and there is no validation of the managed stand yields to base a sensitivity level on.
I ask that the Chief Forester request a validation of the managed stand yields using available data and a statistically valid methodology that will provide a sensitivity level based on the data available, such as analysis of equivalence.
8. Appendix A of the Information Report provides a site index adjustment from 2000. Section 6.8 (Site Index Adjustment) of the Timber Supply Analysis provides a sensitivity analysis using the site index adjustment report estimates of site index for managed stand yield curves instead of the SIBEC site indices.
This leads to an initial harvest that is 14% higher than the base case and a long-term harvest that is 36% higher than the base case.
Site index adjustments such as this are no longer accepted in the TSR for TSAs and should also not be accepted for TFLs.
If the Chief Forester wants to consider this sensitivity, I ask that a table like the one in Section 7.1 (Site Index Assignments) of the Information Package be prepared and compared. A cursory comparison of the site indices from the report to those in Section 7.1 do not seem to support the magnitude of difference shown in the sensitivity analysis, but they are difficult to compare as the site index adjustment report is by species and BEC and Section 7.1 is just by BEC.
Martin Watts MScF, RPF FORCOMP Forestry Consulting Ltd
Questions sent via email from Watts to Teal Cedar Products Ltd that remain unanswered:
I will be submitting some comments on Management Plan #5, but would like to clarify a few items first:
1. In the 2011 AAC determination, it indicates one of the harvest flow objectives was to harvest at least 180,000 m3/year from second-growth stands (age 55-249).
In the current timber supply review, it indicates one of the harvest flow objectives is to limit harvest to 180,000 m3/year from old-growth stands (age 250+).
Are these harvest flow objectives:
a) Voluntary (set by the licensee),
b) A soft partition recommended by the Chief Forester, or c) Something else?
2. The Site Index Adjustment Report (Appendix A of the Information Package) indicates 86- 11.28 metre radius plots were established in 1995 to obtain site index information for stands 21-120 years old.
I assume that these were intended as monitoring plots and include tree measurements that can be used to validate managed stand yield projections. Is this correct?
Have these plots been re-measured since 1995?
3. The VRI Phase II Adjustment Report (Appendix B of the Information Package) indicates volumes from immature (age 30-80 years) plots were compared to VDYP7 estimates.
Section 7.6 (Yield Table Development) of the Information Package indicates TIPSY was used to generate yield curves for managed stands (stands established since 1955).
Is there an analysis available that compared the immature VRI plot volumes to TIPSY estimates and if so, can it be provided?
Is there an analysis available that compares the volumes of the plots established for the site index adjustment to TIPSY estimates and if so, can it be provided?
4. What is the rationale behind using ±10 percent as a sensitivity analysis for managed stand yields?
The VRI statistical analysis indicates managed stand volumes are over-estimated by far more than 10 percent.
5. Section 9.2.5 (Fisheries Sensitive Watersheds) of the Information Package indicates a stand height of 9.0 metres is used for full hydrological recovery (ECA is zero percent).
This appears to be from out-of-date hydrological recovery curves. Current coastal hydrological recovery curves have a stand height of greater than 36.0 metres for full hydrological recovery.
The current hydrological recovery curves for the coast indicate a stand height of 9.0 metres is only 33.7 percent hydrological recovery.
If current hydrological recovery curves for the coast are used, is the maximum ECA in the fisheries sensitive watersheds exceeded in the base case scenario?
6. Table 4.1 of the Information Package indicates TEM is based on a 1995 project conducted by Teal Jones, but also listed the 2020 Provincial Site Productivity Layer (PSPL).
Section 7.1 (Site Index Assignments) of the Information Package indicates SIBEC was used to estimate site index for managed stands (stands that regenerated after 1955).
Was the PSPL or the 1995 TEM and SIBEC tables used to assign the managed stand site indices?
If the 1995 PEM and SIBEC tables were used, are there significant differences in BEC estimation between the PSPL and 1995 PEM?
7. Table 7.1 (Analysis Unit Site Index) of the Information Package lists the area-weighted site indices for the analysis units (the BEC assignment for analysis units is a bit different from that given in table 6.2).
Is there a similar table for the site indices from the site index adjustment project?
The differences in managed stand yields, depending on the source of managed stand site indices, seems high based on a cursory comparison of the differences in SIBEC versus site index adjustment site indices.
8. Section 7.9 (Silviculture History) of the Information Package indicates summaries of well- spaced stems were used to initialize TIPSY simulations.
The current methodology used by FLNRO for the TSR uses total stems from the RESULTS data.
What is the rationale for using well-spaced stems?
This is the executive summary of a 42-page submission:
Teal Cedar Products Ltd. (Teal-Jones) is the holder of Tree Farm Licence 46 (TFL 46), which it acquired from Timber West in 2004. TFL 46 is located on the west side of South Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew, on provincial Crown land covering unceded First Nations traditional territories. Its 10-year Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) is currently subject to a timber supply review (TSR) by the Chief Forester as mandated by the Forest Act (BC). The TSR process requires a public comment period on Teal-Jones’ management plan that includes a Timber Supply Technical Analysis Report stating the licensee’s proposal to the Chief Forester for a new AAC determination for TFL 46.
There are significant and unexplained issues with Teal-Jones’ conduct during this TSR process, which has extended well beyond the expiry date of the latest 10-year AAC determination for TFL 46, while Teal-Jones continued its timber harvesting activities within TFL 46 and will likely continue to do so until a new AAC determination is made. There are also several significant deficiencies in the information provided by Teal-Jones for public review and comment.
The information provided by Teal-Jones does however clearly show that the timber resource in TFL 46 has been over-harvested by Teal-Jones during its tenure. Teal-Jones formally acknowledges the “precarious nature of the timber supply situation” in TFL 46. Yet, Teal-Jones proposes a new AAC with a higher annual volume of timber harvesting for TFL 46 for the next 10-year period. In the circumstances, the proposal of Teal-Jones to the Chief Forester will also prove to be unsustainable.
Furthermore, Teal-Jones clearly intends to clearcut all the available old growth tree stands still remaining within TFL 46 essentially in the next ten years without regard for old growth logging deferrals and without regard for the resulting adverse consequences, particularly with respect to the required protection of the natural old growth habitat for the Marbled Murrelet, a bird species protected under the authority of the Species at Risk Act (Canada), as well as an order and notice respectively issued under the authority of the Land Act (BC) and the Forest and Range Practices Act (BC). At-risk old growth forest ecosystems with very large and healthy old trees having several centuries of age, and even more than 1,000 years of age, are directly threatened by Teal-Jones’ proposed management plan for TFL 46.
For these reasons, the new AAC determination for TFL 46 to be made by the Chief Forester (or Deputy Chief Forester) should: 1) be set for a period that is shorter than the maximum 10-year period permitted by the Forest Act (BC); 2) be set at a significantly lower annual volume level than the annual volume set in the previous AAC determination and the annual volume proposed by Teal-Jones; 3) include a partition setting separately the allowable timber harvesting volume for areas of second growth and areas of old growth within TFL 46 for the duration of the shorter AAC period; and 4) specifically exclude from the Teal-Jones timber harvesting land base (THLB) and the AAC for TFL 46 the old growth areas on provincial Crown land that are: (a) already subject to logging deferrals under the authority of the Forest Act (BC); (b) subject to further logging deferrals pending consultations with First Nations; and (c) necessary to effectively protect the natural habitat of the Marbled Murrelet pursuant to federal and provincial law.
Full submission: Comments on the TSR Information Package and Forest Stewardship Plan of Teal Cedar Products Ltd. - Yves Mayrand - Corrected March 1, 2022.pdf
Chief Forester Diane Nicholls’ response: Chief Forester Reply to Submission on TSR for TFL 46 - March 22, 2022.pdf
TEAL CEDAR PRODUCTS LIMITED is seeking public consent for the continued liquidation of primary forests within Tree Farm Licence 46 lands. Public interest demands that the BC Government deny them permission to execute these cutting rights. The public interest is not served by the terms of this arrangement for diverse reasons: economic, environmental, and societal. Indeed, the greater public interest is irreparably and profoundly harmed by the terms of this licence tenure.
Tree Farm Licences are an archaic vestige of a time when government resource policy attempted to cultivate a mutually beneficial alignment of private corporate interests with what was seen to advance the public welfare. In the case of TFL 46, this meant building mill capacity, creating employment, strengthening rural communities, and cooperatively blending forest management on the extensive private forest land base of Vancouver Island in conjunction with adjacent Crown lands. Of course this extension of colonial “enclosure” was politically promoted in the guise of pushing back the frontier to forge a modern industrial society. This social engineering project was conducted while completely ignoring Indigenous cultural land rights. The lands were quite simply confiscated. We are now more than ever keenly conscious of this injustice since the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The TFL 46 landscape has changed over the last 70 years. Its legal boundaries have been added to and subtracted from—mostly subtracted because of private land relinquishment and take-back policy. The contractual conditions have been greatly altered to the advantage and convenience of a very few corporate players and the simultaneous disadvantage of the public interest. The biophysical condition of the TFL 46 land base has markedly declined as a result of roading, clearcutting, and monocultural planting. These extensive alterations have undermined landscape hydrology, ecosystem integrity, and viewscapes. Indeed, over the decades, the health of TFL 46 land has been degraded to such an extent that its ultimate remediation and ecological survival is problematic.
The accompanying socio-economic exactions have wrought destruction on rural communities. As a former forest industry worker, I am but one collateral casualty among hundreds and understand how wrenching the trauma can be.
As government policy shifted away from overseeing the TFL framework, it relinquished such requirements as “appurtenancy”—links that connected the forests and local manufacturing. TFL 46 fibre, formerly committed to the Youbou Lumbermill, was suddenly and mysteriously extinguished at the stroke of a Forests Minister’s pen. (Minister Zirnhelt later sheepishly admitted on the steps of the legislature that it was an unwitting blunder. 1)
The loss of appurtenancy was but one example of the government retreating from its fiduciary responsibility to the public interest. Over time, an increasingly compliant (or complicit—think R.E. Sommers) government buckled to the pressures, blandishments, and/or enticements of industry. The government’s modus operandi was politely termed “sympathetic administration” and later “professional reliance.” This was an apparent naive trusting that the good folks in the forest industry would treat the public domain honourably and pay their fair share of stumpage into the roadside honesty box.
Government abnegation from TFL responsibilities was matched by forest industry consolidation, employment contraction, and escalating log exports. Along the way, the forest economy has spiralled down to a ghostly remnant. Forest district office closures and staff reductions mean that local oversight or compliance enforcement is nonexistent. Manufacturing jobs have disappeared and communities have been hollowed out or abandoned entirely. It is estimated that at least 80 manufacturing plants have closed in BC since 2000.
The Youbou Lumbermill was shuttered in January 2001 and that helped ease the way for TimberWest Forests to freely auction off TFL 46 without public consideration in 2004. Teal Jones was the successful bidder. It seems that their $18 million dollar investment has proven most rewarding though their actual profitability is hidden behind a private company veil.
Economically, the wage base supported by TFL 46 is now miniscule. Distributed benefits that once accrued to rural communities are no more. Between 2000 and 2020, direct forest industry employment in BC dropped by 50 percent. Recent research definitively shows that the forest industry’s oft-repeated claim that “forestry pays the bills” in this province is a fiction. Not only did forest industry revenue not even cover the cost of forest management, but the public has actually subsidized the industry to the tune of $3.44 billion between 2010 and 2019.
This economic withering of the forest sector—and its impact on employment and communities—shows that it is time for the government to rethink provincial forest policy. Specifically, in the case of TFL 46, cutting rights held by Teal Cedar should be suspended pending careful reconsideration of the allowable annual cut (ACC). Arguably, a case could be made for allowing a reduced ACC based on existing volumes from second-growth plantations; however, this requires closer examination. Some of these plantation lands may be better utilized for old-growth recruitment. Ecosystem services, biodiversity, landscape connectivity, and carbon storage are far more valuable to the public purse, as these values enhance sustainability and resilience in a timeframe measured not by decades but hundreds of years.
Critically, government now has more than just socio-economic considerations to recognize and rationalize. The climate has changed and we are in the midst of an environmental emergency. Earth’s biodiversity is in crisis. Natural systems are teetering. Ecosystem services are straining. Species numbers are declining and in some cases genotypes are disappearing. Carbon sequestration is now recognized to be critical if we are to avert the worst of the soaring “greenhouse gas” effect. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group Report was nothing less than a “code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.”
In BC we are not doing all we can to confront this existential threat. Indeed our forestry sector is quite out of step with this present peril. BC forests, as a whole, are now playing a negative role. Their forest carbon sequestration capacity is less than zero. Primary, old-growth and ancient forests are of particular concern to leading ecologists as the work of Price, Holt, and Daust has independently shown. The BC Government did react to public pressure by initiating the Old Growth Management Strategy Report. Among the public submissions was one from the Cowichan Watershed Board. It’s co-chairs wrote about their great concern for the loss of old-growth forests on southern Vancouver Island and the lack of government supervision in monitoring and enforcement. Aside from a timid, temporary deferral on cutting some old-growth polygons, the importance of the OGM recommendations has yet to be consequentially acted upon.
The liquidation of primary forests (both old growth and other) poses substantive risk to biodiversity and forest carbon sequestration. By continuing to road and cut TFL lands, we undermine our collective resilience to the climate change onslaught. Based on BC Government statistics, the carbon arithmetic makes it very clear that we must immediately commence securing the carbon-fixing capacity of our forests.
To summarize, our economy, environment, and civil society, and humanity as a whole, require massive consequential changes to BC provincial forest policy. This transformation should commence with an immediate denial of tenure renewal in the case of TFL 46.
Finally, because this “proposed management plan” is about social licence and not just AAC, I draw your attention to the citizen blockades that have populated this particular TFL at the invitation of Pacheedaht First Nation Elders over recent months. This outcry from such a broad coalition of civil society, conducted with such grace and peaceful dignity, epitomizes the humanistic non-violent tradition of civil disobedience. Their call of “worth more standing” is a clarion appeal to our best nature.
Roger Wiles has a background in forest land inventory with the Canadian Forest Service and the New Zealand Forest Service in the 1970s. He later worked as a power engineer at the Youbou Sawmill and has lived in the Cowichan Valley for the last 40 years.
1. May 14, 2003 Cowichan News Leader (Jennifer Mclarty): “Zirnhelt—reached at his home in Beaver Valley yesterday—continues to maintain the loss of Clause 7 was 100 percent inadvertent. ‘It could well be I was advised by staff it was nothing of consequence’ he said, adding ‘under normal circumstances a high level meeting would have been set up. I am not trying to duck out of that at all. We have to stand by what we’ve done.’”
In 2018, Anthony Britneff and Martin Watts, both registered professional foresters, made a 134-page joint submission to a panel of forest scientists and professionals assembled to investigate concerns Britneff had expressed in writing to forests minister Doug Donaldson.
Britneff and Watts summarized their concerns in a 20-page report prepared for Focus, outlining numerous problems associated with the data used to inform provincial timber supply reviews. That summary is included below.